Nostalgia….nostalgia…..nostalgia….whenever I make guava jelly, and the heavenly aroma wafts through and fills up the nooks and crannies of my home with it, my mind too, is flooded with the pleasant memories. Guava jelly evokes memories of a very beautiful part of my childhood. I suddenly find myself back in time in a huge bungalow with an orchard that had all the varieties of fruit trees that were native to our foothills. Dad had a great passion for growing fruits and vegetables. Making jams from his own produce was his ultimate happiness. Our childhood was spent climbing trees, plucking fruits, making bridges on and catching fish from the brook(only to release later) that used to meander across our land, watching birds and chasing butterflies.

The guava tree in our orchard used to bear fruits profusely twice a year. The monsoon lot was never too sweet, however, winter crop used to be really plump, sweet and full of pectin.  A bag of ripe guavas would be sent to the neighbours, near and dear ones. After having eaten to our heart’s content, guava jelly and guava cheese would be made by my dad every year without fail. When I close my eyes and remember the good old days, I can smell the scent of guava leaves crushed under our feet as we would climb the smooth branches to pluck the fruit..... a tiny drop of bubbling jelly lands on my hand and breaks my reverie…. and I realize that the jelly is almost done. Wish there was a time machine!

My dad is old now and forays into the kitchen occasionally. Now I have taken his place and love to carry forward this trend. He is my official taster and a jar is always reserved for him.

Here is the family recipe of our very favourite Guava Jelly
Guava jelly
6 to 7 very ripe guavas
Water (enough to cover the chopped fruit)
Lemon juice
Wash and dry guavas. Cut them into small pieces.
Place the guava pieces in a pressure cooker and add water just enough to cover the fruit. Cook till two whistles. Turn off the heat. Leave it to cool.
Take a big size bowl or vessel. Place a strainer that sits well on the mouth of the bowl. Spread a muslin cloth on the strainer. Invert fruit onto the cloth. Hold the corners of the muslin cloth and tie them. The juice should drip through the muslin bag and strainer into the bowl. Hang the bag and keep squeezing lightly till you feel you have collected all the juice.
Discard the pulp, or use it to make Guava Cheese (recipe following soon)
Measure the liquid and transfer it to a thick bottom steel wok.
For every cup of liquid, add one cup of sugar and one tablespoon of lemon juice.
Cook this mixture over medium flame. Once it starts boiling, cook it on low flame stirring constantly.
Cook till the liquid thickens and starts coating the ladle thickly. When poured from the ladle, it should flow thickly and in the end, drops should drip in jointed fashion. Turn off the heat.
In the meantime, sterilize the jars. Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the oven. Set the temperature to 100 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven.
Ladle hot jelly into the jars leaving ¼ inch head space. Secure the lids tightly.

Linking to Vegan Thursdays

With temperature fluctuating and touching an all time low, mild down pour playing pitter patter on the window sills and with two energetic kids  at home, what would one do all day is a big question. Such unpredictable weather has now become a norm. Blame it on global warming or whatever, we need to develop skills and ways to face it and adapt likewise.  The month of January has been foggy, rainy and dull outside most of the time. Kids, however, seem resistant to weather conditions. Their games and antics go on as usual with gusto with their concerned mom constantly bickering over their caps and socks never being in the right place.  While kids play endlessly and enjoy, my solace lies in kitchen. The warmth and involvement de stresses me and gives me some relief from the dullness of weather outside.
Here is the recipe of Gingernuts that I made last week. Gingery, buttery, spicy and crisp….we loved them. If you love ginger, you may add a teaspoonful more to the recipe.

Recipe adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly
The original recipe asks for golden syrup. I have used the same quantity of honey.
This is how I made Gingernuts
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
90 Gms butter
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground clove
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease the baking tray.
Combine butter, sugar and honey in a thick bottom saucepan; stir over low heat until smooth.
Remove from heat, stir in dry ingredients. Cool for 10 minutes.
Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls, place 3 cms apart on the baking tray and flatten them slightly. Bake for 10 minutes.
Cool and store in an airtight container.

I saw fresh cornmeal in the store and bought it. There were a lot of recipes with cornmeal waiting to happen. I love the coarse texture a unique taste of fresh cornmeal. I use it in my bakes and love the flavor it imparts. 
With a lot of dry fruits and sunflower seeds in the stock and fresh cornmeal, I made Sun flower seed and dry fruits cornmeal loaf. Quick bread that has all the healthy ingredients and is egg less and butter free. Kind of bread that leaves no guilt even if you’ve had an extra slice or two. The flavour of honey is beautiful. It is a great accompaniment to endless glasses of tea that are enjoyed on chilly winter days.  Great savior when kids are hungry and a good excuse to have another cuppa.

Recipe adapted from my 
This is how I made Sunflower seed Dry Fruits and Cornmeal Loaf
Sunflower seed and Dry fruits Cornmeal Loaf
 Ingredients (makes two 7 inch loaves)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow coarse cornmeal
2 cups yogurt
½ cup honey
½ cup maple syrup (can be substituted with honey)
½ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped dry fruits (dried figs, black currants, raisins, candied peels, dried cranberries)
½ cup sunflower seed kernels
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line, grease and dust two 7 x 3 inch loaf pans.
Whisk together all purpose flour, corn meal, baking soda and salt.
Combine yogurt, honey, maple syrup, oil and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Mix well.
Add flour mix to yogurt mix stirring just until moist.
Fold in dry fruits, sunflower seeds and orange zest
Pour the batter in the prepared pans. Level with a spoon.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the pans after 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Bread baking is like an addiction. If I haven’t baked one for a long time, a kind of restlessness creeps in. Mixing, kneading and punching seems to wring out all anxieties and stress, it is relieving and healing and a well risen loaf is the ultimate exhilaration.

I added sunflower seeds to my regular whole wheat bread dough. 

The loaf that came out of the oven was just amazing with beautiful flavor of honey and the sunflower seeds adding the lovely crunch.

It is just getting cold, colder and coldest here. With fog looming most of the time, days are quite dull. However nature has its own ways of filling up colours and thus dissipating dullness. 

There are profuse blooms everywhere….

This is how I made Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread
Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup warm water
Mix honey in 1 cup warm water. Stir in yeast and cover for 15 minutes.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and salt in a kneading plate.
Add olive oil and mix well with hands.
Make a well in the center and add yeast mixture. Knead with hands. Keep adding the remaining 1/3 cup warm water till smooth and elastic dough if formed. It will take about 6 to 8 minutes.
Oil a bowl and place the dough in it. Turn the dough so that it is well oiled. Cover and keep in a dry warm place for 1 ½ hours or till it doubles in size.
Grease one 8 inch x 3 ½ inch loaf pan.
Transfer the dough into the kneading plate. Stretch with the heels of your palm. Sprinkle sunflower seeds. Fold the dough sprinkle remaining seeds ensuring that the seeds are uniformly distributed in the dough.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle not bigger than the width of the pan you are using. Roll the dough towards you, tightly. Pinch seams to seal. Place the roll in the greased loaf tin with the seam side down. Cover and keep it to rise for 1 ½ hours in a warm place.
Bake in the preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 25 to 30 minutes or till the top turns brown and the bottom of the pan sounds empty when tapped. If the loaf is browning too quickly, tent the loaf loosely with a foil.
Remove from the loaf tin after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack.
Slice next day.

Submitted for Yeastspotting

I always wanted to bake a cake with figs. This time when we bought figs, I searched for the recipe of cake with figs. I came across this simple recipe.  This recipe does not ask for butter. Lemon zest surely does the magic.

 It is a delicious lemon scented cake that does not take much time to bake. Lovely to have with a hot cup of tea.

Lemon Fig Cake (Butter free)
Adapted from Martha Stewart 
I have made some changes in the recipe. I have reduced olive oil from ½ cup  to 1/3 cup. I have also added 1 ½ teaspoon of lemon juice. I have taken 1 cup chopped dried figs.
This is how I made Lemon Fig Cake
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped figs
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
1 egg
1 ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and dust one 8 inch cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan.
Whisk together all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl whisk together oil, milk, beaten egg. Add lemon juice.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Do not over mix. Gently fold in chopped figs and lemon zest.
Pour the batter in the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or till the top turns golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven, cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool in the wire rack.
Cut into wedges and serve.

These are the tastiest biscuits mom!”, exclaimed my daughter after finishing almost half a  dozen freshly baked Anzacs. My son who is less vociferous of the two, and a picky eater, had four in a go, which meant he loved them immensely. We all enjoyed Anzacs so much that I made another batch the very next day which too got over in a day.
Anzacs are not only nutritious but full of energy too.  Anzac biscuits are popular in Australia and New Zealand.  Anzac biscuits have been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War I. It is believed that the wives of the soldiers made these biscuits for the soldiers in the war. I read the history of the biscuits here.

Original recipe asks for golden syrup. I have used honey in the same quantity.
Recipe adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly
This is how I made Anzacs
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup (1 stick)butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease the baking tray.
Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and desiccated coconut in a large bowl.
Combine butter, honey, and water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until smooth. Tun off the heat.
Add baking soda.
Stir in dry ingredients. Mix well.
Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Flatten them from the top. Place them about 5cm apart on tray.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (keep an eye on the biscuits after 10 minutes as they bake very fast)
Repeat with the remaining dough. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Makar Sankranti is celebrated every year on 14th January all over Kumaon with great élan. Makar Sankranti is the festival of hope and new beginning. It is a major harvest festival and considered very auspicious because on this day, the Sun ends its southward journey (dakshinayan) at the tropic of Capricorn and starts moving northward (uttarayan) towards the tropic of cancer. The movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign to another is Sankranti, and Makar is Capricorn.
Makar Sankranti signifies that we move from the darkness of ignorance towards the light of true knowledge. In Kumaon, fares are held, cultural events are organized and traditional sweets with sesame seeds (til) are prepared at home.
Keeping the family tradition going, I prepared sesame seed sweets with a little twist. I added desiccated coconut and used condensed milk to prepare them. Traditionally, sesame seed sweets are prepared with Jaggery.

Sesame Coconut Balls|Til Nariyal Laddu


  • 2 ½ cups white sesame seeds
  • 1 ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 tin sweetened condensed milk (400g)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder


  1. Roast sesame seeds in a thick bottomed wok over low flame till the seeds become light brown and a sweet aroma emanates (roast over low flame stirring constantly. The seeds burn very fast).
  2. Keep the roasted seeds for ½ hour to cool completely.
  3. Reserve ½ cup of the roasted seeds to roll the balls. Powder 2 cups sesame seeds coarsely.
  4. In a thick bottomed steel, wok add ground sesame seeds, desiccated powder, and condensed milk.
  5. Cook over low flame stirring continuously till the mixture begins to thicken. Add nutmeg powder. Turn off the heat when the mixture begins to leave the sides and comes together like a big ball when stirred.
  6. Roll out medium size balls (laddus) and toss them in the sesame seeds.
  7. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Mercury mayhem has been continuing here. Temperatures have been touching all time low. Yesterday, the day started on a beautiful note. The horizon was clear, the sky was blue and the birds were chirruping in high notes. All days are not the same. Yes, the Sun peeped majestically from behind the hills and shone brightly…..the Sun rose steadily, and, so did our spirits that were almost dampened by the fog.  All the pending chores gained momentum….the washing machine whizzed merrily, a trip to the market was planned…. The usual hustle bustle seemed to return after a long time.
Cold weather also interferes with my bread baking. It had been a long time since I had baked bread. The warm morn was the best time to start working on  one.

I baked  a Whole Wheat Oats Bread which we had for dinner next day.

This is how I made 100%  Whole Wheat Oats Bread-

100% Whole Wheat Oats Bread
3 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup white oats
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons sugar
2 ¼  teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½  cups + 1 tablespoon warm water.
Add sugar to warm water, take 1 cup of this warm water and add yeast. Cover for 15 minutes.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, oats, and salt. Add olive oil and mix well.
Add yeast mix to flour mix, kneading well. Keep adding remaining water in parts. Stretch the dough with the heels of the palms and knead till a smooth and supple dough forms. This requires a lot of muscle power. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and keep the dough for 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from the bowl to the kneading plate and knead for another 6 to 8 minutes.
Grease one 7 inch x 3-inch loaf pan.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle not bigger than the width of the pan you are using. Roll the dough towards you, tightly. Pinch seams to seal. Place the roll in the greased loaf tin with the seam side down. Cover and keep it to rise for 1 ½ hour in a warm place.
Bake in the preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 25 to 30 minutes or till the top turns brown and the bottom of the pan sounds empty when tapped. If the loaf is browning too quickly, tent the loaf loosely with a foil.
Remove from the loaf tin after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack.
Slice next day.

Linking to #Twelveloaves

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party. It was created by Lora from Cake Duchess and runs so smoothly thanks to the help of the lovely Paula from Vintage Kitchen Notes and Renee from Magnolia Days.

Submitted for Yeastspotting

Home baking is all about play of ingredients available at home. A little experimenting and a little creativity sometimes gives astonishing outcomes. Heavy fog has restricted the denizens inside home in this part of the world. With almost no activity outside, this is the best time to read a book that was always awaiting to be finished, complete chores that always bothered, but, were never a priority or try out something new in the kitchen. The latter option is always comforting and interesting, shifting attention from the vagaries of weather, and is a good way of utilizing time that always seems to be in excess in extremities of weather.
During one such day, I made Semolina Sunflower seed cake with the healthiest ingredients that I could find in my pantry. With no butter and eggs, this is definitely a guilt free cake and goes very well with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

Semolina Sunflower Seed Cake (Egg less and Butter free)
1 cup fine semolina
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup milk
½ cup curd
 1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
¼ teaspoon salt
Mix semolina, milk and curd in a bowl. Cover and keep for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease, dust and line a square cake pan.
Add brown sugar, salt, vanilla essence and mix well.
Add baking soda.
Reserve 1 teaspoon sunflower seeds to sprinkle on top. Fold in the rest of the sunflower seeds.
Pour in the prepared tin and sprinkle the seeds.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the pan after 10 minutes by running a knife along the edges. Cool in the rack.
Slice next day.

Dates make a great addition to cakes. Dates make the crumb moist and impart natural sweetness. Cakes with dates require very less added sugar. Dates are also a store house of minerals and vitamins.
I have used whole wheat flour in this cake. This makes the cake healthy and filling. One slice of this cake is perfect filler with a cup of steaming tea on a cold winter afternoon.   Drizzle warm caramel sauce and it becomes a lovely gooey dessert.
If you do not like a dense crumb, then substitute whole wheat flour with 1 cup all purpose flour.
For those who do not want to use eggs in cake, here are two recipes of egg less dates cake. You can enjoy them with caramel sauce.
Egg less Whole Wheat Dates and Walnut Cake
Egg less Whole Wheat Dates Cake

Whole Wheat Dates Cake With Caramel Glaze

Ingredients (Cake)

  • 1cup minus 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 250 Gms (approx 35) pitted and chopped dates
  • 100 gms butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water

Instructions (Cake)

  1. Take chopped dates in a bowl. Sprinkle baking soda, add boiling water. Stir, cover and let it rest for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir well, mashing some of the dates along the sides of the bowl with a ladle.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease one 8 inch round cake tin. Line the bottom with a parchment paper.
  3. Whisk together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt.
  4. Cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla essence. Beat well.
  5. Add dates mix and beat well. Stir in flour mix in three rounds. Mix till evenly combined.
  6. Pour the batter in the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Stand for 10 minutes, turn onto wire rack to cool.

Ingredients (Caramel Sauce)

  • ½  cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 100 ml low fat cream
  • 25 Gms (¼ stick) butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence

Instructions (Caramel Sauce)

  1. Take a heavy bottom pan. Add milk and sugar. Stir till sugar dissolves.
  2. Add cream, butter and vanilla essence. Cook on medium heat. Bring it to a boil stirring constantly till the sauce becomes thick.
  3. Pour warm sauce over the cake.

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